Duke freshman reveals porn identity

 
A statue on the campus of Duke University. A freshman adult actress has become the talk of Duke University

The campus of prestigious Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has been consumed with talk of a freshman who recently revealed that she was paying part of her college tuition with money earned through pornography work.

The rumours started when she confided her part-time profession to a classmate who recognised her from one of her adult films. He subsequently spread the word to his friends. It wasn't long before much of the campus knew, and - once it hit the internet - the world.

The 18-year-old, under the pseudonym "Lauren", gave an interview last month to her college newspaper and wrote about herself for the blog xoJane.

She said she had decided to come forward in order to bring the salacious gossip and online harassment she was receiving - "slut-shaming", as it's often called - to light.

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When I finish a scene, I know that I have done so and completed an honest day's work”

End Quote Belle Knox Adult film star/Duke student

"If people are going to talk about you, you might as well control the conversation and use it to start a dialogue, which in this case is about the abuses we inflict on sex workers," she says.

She continues:

I find it interesting that porn (a billion-dollar industry) is consumed by millions of people - men and women (and all other equally wonderful genders) alike - yet no one is willing to consider the lives of the people behind the camera. No one wants to hear about the abuses and exploitation that take place, no one wants to hear about the violence committed every day against sex workers, no one wants to consider that we have hopes and dreams and ambitions.

She explains that she became an adult actress to help pay her college's $60,000 (£36,000) annual tuition.

"For me, shooting pornography brings me unimaginable joy," she writes. "When I finish a scene, I know that I have done so and completed an honest day's work. It is my artistic outlet: my love, my happiness, my home."

On the internet, however, there are no secrets - and the student's real identity has become readily available. It's the latest example of "doxxing", where a person has often-intimate details of their lives unearthed and spread by anonymous internet users.

Sometimes the information revealed is as simple as publicly available Facebook and Instagram photos. Other times, it can be much more.

The Washington Post's Caitlin Dewey explains:

Thanks to a series of soul-wilting anonymous postings on forums like CollegiateACB, AutoAdmit and Barstool Sports, you can find out a whole lot more than that without a whole lot of effort. You can see Lauren's porn name, photos from her films, and her casting page on the Web site of the model agency she works for. You can find the name of her hometown and high school; her father's profession and e-mail address; and a list of her hobbies and extracurriculars.

She says that condemning these online communities is fruitless, however.

In short, as long as people care about reading gossip, and advertisers care about reaching readers, anonymous gossip forums will thrive. That's just the internet we live in. Protesting otherwise is almost as naive and absurd as Lauren's repeated comments that she'd like to stay anonymous; there's only anonymity for gossipers, not their subjects.

On Tuesday, the Duke freshman went one step further, publicly confirming her acting name, Belle Knox, in another xoJane post as well as in an interview with Playboy.

She tells the adult magazine that the high cost of education left her little choice but to turn to pornography:

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Perhaps Knox thought that the judgements against her would be less virulent from a generation that has grown up with unlimited access to porn”

End Quote Elaina Dockterman Time magazine

The fact that the only viable options to pay for college are to take out gigantic student loans, to not go to college at all or to join the sex industry really says something. We need to recognize that there's a gap between what middle-class and upper-middle-class families can pay and what they're asked to pay. We also need to stop looking at loans as a solution to fix our education system, because they're crippling our economy.

All this has Time magazine's Elaina Dockterman observing that even the Playboy interviewer seemed a bit puzzled by her response. "If Playboy is questioning your foray into the porn industry, you know you have a problem," she writes.

"Student loans are an absurd burden on anyone, but most students find jobs on campus - doing research for professors, working at local stores, writing," she writes. "Porn may feel more empowering to the self-identified libertarian Knox than waitressing, but I promise that her frat boy peers won't see it that way. And employers definitely won't see it that way."

Of course, Dockterman notes, we should keep in mind that Knox is still just a teenager and a bit naive.

"Perhaps Knox thought that the judgements against her would be less virulent from a generation that has grown up with unlimited access to porn," she writes.

"But though we're living in an era when everything from clothing ads to salad dressing commercials is verging on soft core porn, she's finding that there's still a stigma attached to actual sex on camera."

Unfortunately for her, Dockterman says, mistakes in the internet age tend to live forever.

"College years are full of bad decisions that we must justify to ourselves and our roommates later in our dorm rooms," she writes. "For most, you live, you learn, you move on. But this decision will likely haunt Knox for the rest of her college and professional career."

Ms Knox said she first came forward in print to "control the conversation". In the internet age, however, the "conversation" often controls you - and there's no way to turn it off.

 

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  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 66.

    Make love not war !

    --a 50 year old ´geriatric´ truth --discovered a generation ago.

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    Comment number 65.

    I'm sure that her model agency has already increased her rates for hire after all this free publicity.

    And I'm sure that most Universities in the US don't really care where the money comes from - but guess that the student runs the risk of hitting some morality clause any Uni may have, that they will use in the case of unwanted or awkward publicity for any Uni concerned in cases like this.

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    Comment number 64.

    NC is pretty conservative so the Republican view that women should be kept in their place is relevant here (Boehner, McConnell, Cantor, et al front the US Taliban: control of women) and today's map by the BBC data affirms that Islamist states and India, et al, hold women as subservient: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-24650912 Clearly not the whole story from US/Canadian young male attitudes?

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    Comment number 63.

    59.Nimbusguy

    You're talking about the real problem. This article is like most articles about women, including abortion. It's "Blame women or defend women, but whatver you do, feed the problem." As usual, minimal addressing (or a comedic caricature) of cause or effect as relates to men. Oh, and btw, it's international alien's day.

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    Comment number 62.

    I get the feeling that if it was a male student who turned to porn movies to pay his tuition fees, reactions would be somewhat different. He'd probably get congratulated on following up on a good idea and be the envy of a fair number of his peers. It might not do him any harm finding a job later, either.

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    Comment number 61.

    What ever rocks your boat! Each to their own! If you are that insecure that you can only feel good by downing another ....Then it's YOU with the problem!
    GOOD for you girl! I'm sure you have made lots of lonely (and some not lonely) people very happy and very satisfied!

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    Comment number 60.

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    Comment number 59.

    Canadians are beginning to deal with the 'culture of rape' in our universities. It appears to be prevalent all across north America. I believe that it has a lot to do with easy availability of pornography to adolescent boys whose minds are rewiring. Far more than the people mentioned above are victims of pornography. When did it become an acceptable part of society?

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    Comment number 58.

    The person who cleans out portable toilets provides a much needed service. It pays well but one shouldnt be shocked to find others expected you to be able to do more with your life. I don't think she did anything wrong but it's no shock that there were other occupations available. No one raises their child to be a porn star nor does any parent brag about their little porn star.

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    Comment number 57.

    Everybody looks at porn, and enough people pay for it that it's a Billion dollar industry. So why are we shaming somebody who participates as a provider in something we're all enjoying?

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    Comment number 56.

    I'm incredibly impressed and pleased that this woman has come forward to claim her identity. She is representative of a new wave of women who are *not* going to be slut shamed. I find it in questionable taste that the BBC gave half a column to Elaina Dockterman effectively slut shaming her by making grave pronouncements about how she will inevitably be haunted by her decision.

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    Comment number 55.

    "The rumours started when ... who recognised her from one of her adult films."
    Better put: the rumours started because this guy was jealous as he knew far too well that he could not get HER or others to have sex with HIM if he PAID! He recognised her IN her VIDEO and so to help his conscious over watching PORN he starts THE SHAME of the VERY person he watched in a sex video. Disgraceful and low!

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    Comment number 54.

    "Time magazine's Elaina Dockterman observing that even the Playboy interviewer seemed a bit puzzled by her response. "If Playboy is questioning your foray into the porn industry, you know you have a problem," she writes."

    Citing a vacuous comment by a lowlife journalist from Playboy, to avoid responsibility yet still condemn this bold young advocate of sexual liberation? Oh, brave, dreamboat!

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    Comment number 53.

    As a gay person, I find this ridiculous and hypocritical. We treat our porn stars like anyone else who provides a commodity that we enjoy. But then, we're much less likely to pretend that we don't look at porn.

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    Comment number 52.

    While I am not surprised, I am sad at the prim and sanctimonious tone this piece took. A legal adult made a decision that I might not make, and her bills-paying choice gets derided as a "mistake in the internet age." How fatuous! I have a friend whose decision to dance to pay her bills led to both a masters in womens' studies and a Ph.D in anthropology. Just wait and see before judging others.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 50.

    Issues:

    High cost of education vs ability to pay
    Legitimacy of porn as employment/industry
    Porn v society/women/men
    Male liberties v female liberties esp sexual
    Expectations of privacy as performer

    Even if you dislike porn, some credit for spending the money on education. She needed money, the porn market exists. Don't blame her for supplying when there's a legal demand.

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    Comment number 49.

    Sounds like an old debate -- a young woman decides to make more money per minute than she could any other way.

    Over time, each one of has to learn our own lessons as to which way of making money leaves us better off in a wholistic sense.

    If she's having fun, where's the harm? I betcha there's a whole bunch of college co-eds in the underground "escorts" industry in the US.

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    Comment number 48.

    This girl represents the future of America. Many girls in the U.S. these days are turning to porn, prostitution, and stripping to support themselves and fund their education.

 

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